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Italian Language/use of the imperative

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Question
Dear Maria,  

Would you please tell me the difference between the following two sentences:

Tutti vadano a tavola a mangiare.
Tutti andate a tavola a mangiare.

I am trying to make sure that I understand the difference between the 2nd person and 3rd person plural forms of the imperative.  I understand that “vadano” is the third person plural form of “andare” in the imperative, and that “andate” is the 2nd person plural form of “andare” in the imperative. I also understand that the verb “andare” is used more for commands than suggestions.  

But, I am wondering when I should say “andate” and when I should say “vadano”.

Should I say - “andate” when talking to a group of people that I know?  

Should I say – “vadano” when talking to a group of people that I do not know?

Would you also please tell me if this same logic applies to the difference between the following two sentences:

Tutti vengano a tavola a mangiare.
Tutti venite a tavola a mangiare.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

first of all I have to point out that “Tutti vadano a tavola a mangiare! “ is correct as well as “Vadano tutti a tavola a mangiare!”, whereas the correct wording of “Tutti andate a tavola a mangiare “ should be as follows: “Andate tutti a tavola a mangiare!”, where the subject pronoun “tutti” is placed after the 2nd person plural of  the imperative, because of euphony, i.e. a pleasing sound. In good Italian, in fact, the position of a word  is often important in order to have a good sound.

Similarly we say: “Tutti vengano a tavola a mangiare!” or “Vengano tutti a tavola a mangiare!”, but  “Venite tutti  a tavola a mangiare!”.

As for the difference between the above-mentioned sentences, you are right when saying that “andate” /”venite” (2nd person plural, imperative) should be generally used when talking to a group of people that we know, and “vadano” /”vengano” (3rd person plural, imperative) when talking to a group of people that we do not know, although sometimes it happens that such a difference is not respected.

Lastly, I have to tell you that the 3rd person plural of the imperative sounds like an    exhortation /incitement/suggestion rather than a command, just because such a 3rd person plural of the imperative is nothing but a hortatory subjunctive.

Hope this can be helpful to you.

Best regards,

Maria  

Italian Language

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Maria

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D.in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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